Alejandro Bedoya inspires Philadelphia's first playoff win: "[He's] the definition of a captain"

CHESTER, Pa. — Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya isn’t known for leaving games early. 

In arguably his biggest game as a Union player on Sunday, though, Bedoya had to watch from the bench as a cramp kept him from seeing out the final eight minutes of the team’s first ever playoff win in a 4-3 extra time thriller on Sunday.

“He literally had the quad [injury], he had been kicked about 15 times and put so much into the game, he was incredible on the night,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “The definition of a captain, the definition of a leader but no injury there, just some tightness and cramping.”

Bedoya was returning from a quad strain, which he said was the first muscle injury of his career picked up in the first half of a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on Sept. 29. He missed the regular season finale, a 2-1 loss at home, on Oct. 6. 

With his team down a pair of goals inside the first half hour on Sunday, he stepped up with a momentum-shifting goal to spark Philly's comeback in the 30th minute.

“Fortunately, the goal that Ale scored kind of comes from nothing, it’s a quick free kick from Haris [Medunjanin] but that certainly changes the game because the mind is a powerful thing,” Curtin said. “When we score that goal, Red Bull has some thoughts on the last time we played here as well so things start to creep back into their minds. So it kind of flipped the momentum.”

The Red Bulls momentarily took the momentum back just before halftime when Tom Barlow capitalized on an Andre Blake drop to restore the two-goal lead. But the Union found themselves back on the front foot again in the second half before finishing off the Red Bulls in extra time with key contributions from Fafa Picault and Marco Fabian off the bench.

“I was just pissed off, that third goal,” Bedoya said. “It was a cheap goal to give up so that was a bit deflating but at the same time after I got my emotions in check I just said we’ve been here before.” 

Bedoya said even behind, he knew they’d get their chances and that he thought they were “the better team.” Overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 at home against the Red Bulls in June certainly played into that thinking.

“It was just a matter of being patient and not letting them get another goal,” Bedoya said. 

The goals Philadelphia needed came from defender Jack Elliott in the 52nd minute, Picault 12 minutes from full time, and Fabian in stoppage time of the first extra time period.  

“We had the wind in the second half and I think our intensity just showed out,” Elliott said.

Bedoya’s goal was his second his third playoff appearance after scoring in a 3-1 road loss at Toronto FC in 2016. Like all his teammates on the field, Sunday’s playoff win was the first of his career. 

“That is something that we have not had yet, but now we have it,” Curtin said of the win. “Everyone is going to remember this game.”